Lake Michigan, South West corner. Out today mowing the lawn to review possible targets for a dive. The bottom temperature in one of the areas dove was 50F, just a hint of a chop, odd surface current, and a strong off shore wind that kept us weather vaning when anchored. We were only out about 6 hours and the stormy weather passed us by which was appreciated. Located a few stray pieces of wood, saw lots of sand and clay and as always, we now know where wrecks are not
Last Thursday was the first “Thirsty Thursday” dive organized thru Wolf’s Marine & Dive Shop in Benton Harbor, Michigan and took place in Magician Lake which is part of the chain of lakes known as the Sister lakes in Dowagiac.
There were four divers participating in the dive and they spent most of the dive practicing moving and positioning objects on the bottom. It was a shallow dive with the max depth on the slope of around 20 feet but being a shallow dive it was nice and warm with fair visibility initially To those in the know, such activities require coordination of efforts and good team work in zero visibility which results when lifting and moving objects in muck and silt.
Jarvis Lake – Search & Recovery Dive was Successful :)
The Jarvis lake dive was a search for and recovery of an ice auger and ice fishing shanty lost last January when the ice in that specific area was not as thick as anticipated. Though the fishermen did get wet that day they fortunately they were able to extract themselves and get back to shore safely. When only an X marks the spot on the water, locating items lost is often difficult to say the least but being provided with good land marks, known depth, and being in a small lake made this task much easier. The bottom was muck with a heavy layer of silt and zero visibility once you were on the bottom. The water was warm except when you swam thru a spring plume and the hood was needed just to keep the muck out of your ears. Having surface support on a pontoon boat direct the search patterns made the difference. And yes we were successful in finding the lost items
Gull Lake – Water Mellon Carving – SASS Wednesday Dive
Several Muddies attended the Sub-Aquatic Sports & Service (SASS) Wednesday evening dive at Gull Lake located in Ross Township. This days event was Underwater Water Mellon Carving and as you can see they had great attendance and lots of fun. The 8 foot visibility they started with turned to less than 3 feet real quick
Two little boats on a very large lake – Wreck of the Havana
It was a great day for a wreck dive with blue skies and a gentle swell. Two full boats left the DNR dock in Benton Harbor, up the Saint Joseph river, out between the Saint Joseph piers and then due North 5 miles to the wreck site.
Depth was measured at 51 feet with visibility reported to have been any where between 10 and 15 feet before additional bottom dweller’s arrived. The bottom temperature was a moderate 49°F but since all the divers were wearing dry suits it really did not matter. It was reported that much more of the wreck is uncovered this year and there are wreck sections you can actually go underneath. The anchor chain has not yet been relocated and the sub-surface buoy is missing.
After the wreck dive several divers made a second dive around the Benton Harbor water intake structure before returning to the DNR docks.
What else to do on the first day of summer but to hit the beach and get in a dive. The parking lot was filled when I left but being early has its rewards like a parking place:) The water is certainly warm enough for wet suiting even past the first thermocline though the visibility was a max of 4 feet, and hazy at that, the dive was still enjoyable. Some weeds in the 3 to 8 foot depth range but nothing like in years past. Live clams, carp, and bass were noticed but no crawfish or snails were observed. Boat traffic was surprisingly light and no one used by dive flag as a turning pylon today. Hope You did something fun today also.
Jim S, Ted T and Mike did a couple of hours of shallow water diving today to Big Crooked Lake off 94th street then to Magician Lake, Dowagiac (Sister Lake Area) off the Gilmore fire lane. Mike will be joining Jim S. at next Tuesdays MUD meeting. They picked up a lot of trash and a couple of beer bottles that Mike wanted as keepers. For a16 year old rookie, Mike is a good grubber! Ted T. came over and hit Big Crooked and Magician with us.
“In search of the Dead Cow” (The finder got steak, everyone else hot dogs.)
The dive this evening at Gull Lake was called the “In Search of the Dead Cow!” and no, there was no real dead cow being searched for, this was more fun
Since I went there to take a few pictures of structure not seen before, my entry was a while little before the organized searchers and student class entered the water. That helped in having reasonably good visibility for the most part especially in the shallows.
Met a very aggressive sunfish as I neared the drop off who would not leave my camera and face mask alone and had to physically restrain his enthusiasm. Lots of fish visible but actual schools around the telephone booth, ice shanty, and in a few of the 20 foot depth weed beds.
Above 25 feet the visibility was easily 20 feet, below the visible thermocline layer, visibility dropped off considerable becoming hazy. Surface temperature was in the 60’s and dropped considerably at 40 feet. As a side note, there was a minimum of 30 divers in and out of the water in the 4 hours I was there.
Here are a few pictures of the creatures and structures laying in wait for you to see when you dive there. You can also purchase a laminated copy of the bottom structures and compass heading of both Ross Township & Prairieville Park (at Gull Lake) from Sub-Aquatic Sports & Service.
Parking at $5 per car. Space was at a premium today.
From Ross Township parking lot looking at Gull Lake beach area.
Just like the tropics (almost).
Fish selfie – trying to eat my face or at least the camera.
Sponge Bob at least looks a bit more lively than the chief.
Sound or phone booth from a distance.
Very small diver on the ice shed watching the fish go by.
Sail boat located near the chain link platform.
Chain link dive platform
Water logged Motorcycle – taken just before some one dragged a concrete anchor over it and my dive flag :(
Air chamber attached to the rail road tracks.
This is either a side car or modified aircraft drop tank.
Subway sign across RR tracks and home to Sponge Bob.
With indeterminate weather forecast it was decided to dive the Saint Joseph South pier instead of wreck diving on Saturday. Other than deep swells it was a good day to dive and with 5 feet of visibility, most of the time, so you didn’t bump into too many boulders and other rip-rap along the sides of the piers. The surface water temperature on the south side was about 49°F and the river side temp was in the very high 60’s. As usual most of the boulders along the pier are covered in quagga mussels and cladophora, which is a green nuisance algae that does not produce toxins the way blue/green algae can.
Todays primary objective was to collect golf balls and maybe any fishing tackle that may have found its way to the bottom. The total golf balls recovered by the end of the dive was ~265 with a majority of them in good enough shape to use or sell. We are quite sure the count would have been much higher if Dan had had a goody bag like Bob & Mack.
After the dive and as we putted our way back between the piers and into the river, we were hailed by a fisherman to provided him some assistance. It appears that his stringer of fish had wrapped themselves around the bottom of the pier ladder and could not be retrieved. Being the good fellow that Dan is, he volunteered to lend a hand. So he had a second dive of the day getting the man’s fish back to him and that’s how we know the river water was almost 20° warmer than the lake itself.
Very satisfied with our selves after having played the good Samaritan we proceeded back to the docks. Looking at the boat traffic Bob was commenting that he had not been stopped for a boater safety check in quite awhile. He spoke too soon as we were then hailed within minutes by the Coast Guard for a boat safety check. After the successful safety check we then proceeded to the DNR dock.
Since we were near the dive shop we dropped in to say Hi, for some to refill tanks, and Mack to get free popcorn & brownie (usually available at Wolf’s Marine on Saturday). Wonder how many golf balls we left behind?